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Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

swb Re:Wow (466 comments)

I think the best thing the US could do is see Putin for what he basically is, a mafia boss. Once you realize that is how he has structured and is running the political economy of Russia it seems to me to be clearer on how to deal with him.

Putin may be as rough and tough personally as his public persona is made out to be, but he's only really as strong as the people he surrounds himself let him be. If they can be made to believe that backing him is a losing game he can be undermined and neutralized. I'm hoping that some bright boys from the State Department have watched the Godfather and the Sopranos enough times to figure this out and have factored this into the sanctions they've been selectively imposing so that the guys Putin needs to keep himself on top start to ask questions and wonder if there's maybe somebody else better for business.

Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin's head of the NKVD was probably more dangerous, ruthless and powerful than even Putin imagines himself to be in his wildest dreams. Stalin was afraid of him. Yet he wound up with a bullet in his head in Lubyanka.

3 hours ago
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Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

swb Re:Some outrage motivated by image control/PR/mone (306 comments)

Who are we dealing with here? Pretty young actresses have a shelf life like ripe peaches and an army of agents, publicists and ego-strokers whose number one mission in life is to make sure they wring maximum monetization out of their celebrity looks.

I'll Jennifer Lawrence some credit, she's a great actress, but don't think for a moment that this entire celebrity enterprise isn't about turning looks into money. It sure as hell isn't about "art" or their credibility as artists.

What seems to be missing from any of this photo hacking "scandal" is any kind of questions about what kind of narcissism it takes to start taking your own nude selfies. Are we supposed to just believe this is some kind of creative personal expression, like every normal wife/mother/sister we know strips down and does nude selfies? Or is it more likely this is just a byproduct of the inevitable self-absorbption that comes from a cynical and tireless self-promotion?

And, really, I don't care -- the morality doesn't bother me a bit, but I'm not going to think for a minute there's not more than a little neurotic behavior. And given the long history of leaked video *tape*, how fucking stupid do you have to be as an A-list celebrity to think "Oh, I can take snaps of my tits on my phone and upload them to the cloud and nobody will ever see them."

3 hours ago
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In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

swb Re:Prequel (405 comments)

I'm not entirely sure school shootings are even a real social phenomenon and not just some media fueled phenomenon.

They seem to more or less date back to Colorado with very few before that (purposeful shootings, at least as distinct from criminal activity that just happened to be on school property). After that they seemed to kind of follow in the same mode, disaffected people lashing out against a major symbol of their disaffection.

Is it a trend or is it merely an inspiration shared to the disaffected by the media?

10 hours ago
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Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

swb Re:Some outrage motivated by image control/PR/mone (306 comments)

Are they exceptions? Kate Winslet, Ann Hathaway and Marion Cotillard have all done extensive nudity yet remain highly regarded actresses. You could just as easily say that good acting is an exception and nudity is just a superfluous criteeia.

I think a lot of it is complicated by the twisted American view of nudity. It's often only put in for scandal and titillation and seldom used in a realistic manner. A lot of people talk about "unnecessary" which I think is begs the question as to what "necessary" nudity is.

yesterday
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Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

swb Some outrage motivated by image control/PR/money? (306 comments)

As far as I know, Jennifer Lawrence has never done a nude scene in a movie. Is some of the outrage due to that maybe Jennifer Lawrence as an actress is more appealing/alluring in some roles because she's not been seen on screen nude and thus manages to increase her allure by keeping the mystery alive (although X-Men and American Hustle did about everything possible to reveal that mystery)

It does seem to be something of a female celebrity career trope that when they hit a mature phase of their careers they start opting for roles that involve a lot of nudity under some kind of guise that it's a challenging or artistically complex thing to do. Usually the more explicit the nudity and/or sex the greater press it draws and with any luck a bump to the actress' career.

Could Jennifer Lawrence ALSO be motivated by the fact that being nude in a movie is some way passé now -- ie, taking a role with nudity would no longer bring any added celebrity or notoriety because we've already seen that?

I'm not implying she doesn't have other, better reasons to be annoyed -- celebrities are people too, and like their privacy. I'm just curious to what extent the outrage isn't somewhat motivated by a celebrity's desire to flog an image of sexuality for maximum return.

yesterday
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States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths

swb Anti-opiate forces actually "pro pain"? (215 comments)

There's times I think that the "anti opiate" forces would be against anything that made pain sufferers feel better. It's like there's some kind of morality subtext that's really "pro pain" and opposed to feeling better (unless of course it was due to praying to Jesus).

3 days ago
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How the World's Fastest Electric Car Is Pushing Wireless Charging Tech

swb Race tracks like slot car tracks (49 comments)

Why couldn't they make a race track similar to a slot car track, although without the slot?

4 days ago
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Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

swb Re:So what was the plan? (832 comments)

Russian gas is a double-edged sword for Russia. It's economy is already on the skids, a boycott of Russian gas by the EU (to the extent is practical) makes it worse. I think the oligarchs will go a long ways with Putin but there is a point at which they might like being rich more than they fear Putin.

I also think that anything that looks like real brinksmanship with the US that could lead to a shooting war would be defused by the Chinese. On paper, they'd love to see the US and Russia beat the shit out of each other, but at the end of the day it would eviscerate the Chinese economy and lead to a ton of turmoil. China moves forward with the US and collapses without it. When push comes to shove, they will back the US over Russia because they can move forward without Russia.

5 days ago
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Euro Bank Santander Commissions Study On Bitcoin's Impact On Banking

swb Conclusions (50 comments)

"In order to continue to maintain control over the economy and manipulate financial markets, banks will probably have to get some laws passed that give us control over bitcoin."

5 days ago
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DoT Proposes Mandating Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications

swb Re:Just wait (261 comments)

"Keep honking, I'm reloading"

about a week ago
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Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

swb Re:Flip the switch (247 comments)

It wasn't about the metaphysics, because of course, he's kind of right. Although if you listen to someone who is an actual philosophy professor with a background in metaphysics and epistemology they make pretty convincing arguments against this kind of thinking.

What bothered me was the kind of smarmy, know-it-all attitude he had.

Ironically (or not) the comment I made was based on a story I had heard told about the philosopher George Berkeley's "immaterialism". This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers, and as a result cannot exist without being perceived.

He had arrived in the rain someplace and couldn't enter because a door or gate was locked and he pounded on the door to be let in. A competing philosopher whose name I don't remember was slow in opening it and let Berkeley continue to pound on the door in the rain.

Berkeley became angry at being left in the rain and became agitated. The philosopher with whom he disagreed with yelled out "George! Calm down! Just stop perceiving the door and you'll be able to walk right in."

about a week ago
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Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

swb Re:Flip the switch (247 comments)

I was riding the bus home from the University about 20 years ago and this guy in front of me was going on and on to this girl sitting next to him, sprouting some Philosophy 101 nonsense about how "How do I know you're real, and not just a figment of my imagination?"

After about 15 minutes of this I couldn't take it anymore and I looked at the girl and said "Go ahead and punch this guy in the nose, and then ask him whether he still wonders whether you're a figment of your imagination."

about a week ago
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Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

swb What's the max bandwidth of coax cable? (335 comments)

And in most areas, how "full" is the coax line between my house and the fiber node? Ie, how much of the usable coax bandwidth has been allocated to cable channels, on-demand viewing, phone service, alarm monitoring, and Internet access?

Has switching from NTSC analog to all those HD channels (even though they are compressed, etc) been a net gain in usable bandwidth on the coax or just a wash?

I always just wonder if Comcast isn't just trying to keep that coax cable capable of handing TV and Internet by various means of suppressing bandwidth consumption on Internet usage.

The suck for Comcast is when that coax cable "runs out" of bandwidth and there's no room to cram yet another HD sports channel on. A project to migrate from coax to fiber would be a total nightmare for them.

I'm not trying to defend or justify anything they do, I'm sure it's at least half oriented towards nickle and diming and profiting off of manufactured scarcity but coax cable shared by many dwellings seems like a major bottleneck that will eventually have to be addressed and it will not be cheap.

about a week ago
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TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

swb Re:You had a VM w/ VLAN; TechCentral took a big ri (249 comments)

Yeah, I never got to the installation phase of anything because as you say I began to worry about what MIGHT get installed as this VM can get to my production network. They are on separate subnets but not for security reasons; I run this VM for connecting to client systems when they want VPN software installed, which is why it has its own unique public IP. A dumb subnet scanner wouldn't hurt, but something smart might.

I am tempted to spin up a special VM on a totally isolated VLAN with connectivity to anything but a dedicated firewall which would pick up a NAT address from the cable modem (and thus not compromise any of my statics, I think it gets NAT'd to my static range gateway address). I'd probably skip the snapshot and just set the disk to independent/non persistent so changes would be long-term impossible between boots.

It's still not perfect, there are potential security risks in the hypervisor, but a patched ESXi 5.5 doesn't scare me like an OS hosted hypervisor would.

What they did was crazy -- access to a live PC on their internal network? What do you bet there were cached admin credentials on it from cloning or initial setup, too.

about a week ago
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TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

swb Surprised at how abusive they can get (249 comments)

I took a call from one of these guys.

I happened to have a VM I use for testing up and running and I snapshotted it and figured I'd follow along with him just to see what he wanted done. This VM is on its own VLAN and behind its own firewall and public IP, but I kind of got cold feet about creds that could be on the machine or connectivity to my production LAN so I stopped before anything got installed (and I reverted to the snapshot, too).

Anyway, after I quit playing along I started to gently question who he said he was and the guy became really abusive and threatening, like he was going to save up for a plane ticket to fly to the US and beat me up or something if I didn't keep going. I was really kind of surprised at how far he took it.

At that point I figured dishing it out was fine, so I went full-on nasty with him and again I was surprised at his willingness to keep it up, especially considering I was pretty harsh.

about a week ago
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California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

swb Why hasn't it happened already? (233 comments)

iPhones have had the ability to be remote wiped for a long time. Yet I have not heard of a pandemic of hacker-led mass bricking of iPhones. Dirty hipsters and their iPhones have been at the center of a lot of protests yet we haven't heard of mass iPhone shutdowns by the police in response to demonstrations.

I think government/law enforcement already have the powers they physically need to fuck with cell phones. Between Stingray devices and the ability to present national security letters to carriers or service providers, if they wanted to they could get IMEIs blacklisted or get someone like Apple to brick a specific phone.

I think this just finally cuts off the ability of the cell carriers to encourage and profit from theft by activating stolen phones. Maybe if we treated AT&T stores like pawn shops and told them it was loss of their licenses and jail time for trafficking in stolen property if they activated stolen phones the kill switches wouldn't be necessary, but because corporate profits and lobbying we don't.

about a week ago
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California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

swb No different than emission standards (233 comments)

California is basically a nation-state unto itself. It is so large and relatively wealthy that when it sets standards, it often sets them for the entire nation and occasionally the world.

IIRC, auto emissions controls were one of those things California began to mandate. Not selling cars in California wasn't an option, so automakers began basically making cars that met their standards and sold them everywhere because the economies of scale made it make sense to do so.

about a week ago
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Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

swb Re:Not Net Neutrality (525 comments)

At the end of the day there are some markets in need of regulation and it seems pretty obvious that residential internet access is one of those markets that tends toward a monopoly due to the cost and size of the delivery network.

The monopolists who control it will use it to maximize their profit, as we have seen. They have a disincentive to invest in infrastructure.

What that regulation looks like is what's important. The FCC's current path is too focused on minutiae without focusing on the structural problem behind the need for regulation.

I think municipal high speed fiber is a great way to address this and is very similar to the municipal road network. High investment cost, low marginal return over time. It's not a market anyone wants to enter; while UPS would love to own the roadways, it's only profitable if they can use them to exclude competition and charge high prices.

A municipal fiber network eliminates the structural monopoly and done right (IMHO, anyway) it doesn't provide ANY service anymore than having a street in front of my house provides me with transportation services.

A municipal network would be basically a data center operation and the local fiber network. Service from the network would require content providers operating on this network, whether they be bare-bones IP connectivity or some kind of full-suite provider like Comcast who could provide video and IP.

I think "unfair competition" would come from a municipal network that also provided IP connectivity or services on this, and I don't doubt there would be some people who would claim this is a legitimate government function, needed to close some rich/poor gap by providing a consumer subsidy. I think that would be a mistake because it would really hinder innovation.

about a week ago
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Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

swb Re:Not Net Neutrality (525 comments)

I'm not sure how Marxism as an economic theory would have much of an opinion of net neutrality considering Marxism's primary economic calculus is based around the labor theory of value. Passing packets is, for all intents and purposes, totally automated and involves no labor and no surplus value.

Really the debate seems to be more around monopoly capitalism. Most broadband providers are monopolists and want use their monopoly power to enhance profits. They want to constrain data consumption to limit their capital outlay on network infrastructure. This creates scarcity that allows them to charge higher prices.

The FCC's regulation on this has been ham-handed and seems to head in the wrong direction as it wants to "fine tune" Internet access through minutia.

I think classifying the Internet is a public utility isn't really what's been advocated -- it's more along the lines of a municipal fiber network that generally eliminates the local monopoly enjoyed by most broadband providers and the artificial scarcity it creates.

The purpose of the municipal network is more akin to roads; the local network isn't designed to provide anything other than layer 2 connectivity, The city may provide roads but they don't provide actual transportation, and the better municipal broadband concepts seem to be built around open access to the network by providers who then provide services like Internet access.

The Kochs would probably argue that these systems would ultimately end up providing basic Internet access as part of the connection fee, in effect putting the government in competition with private industry. This in itself isn't an unreasonable argument but it's easily dealt with by simply prohibiting a municipal network from providing services beyond local connectivity. Koch capitalists don't have an easy solution to the monopoly problem of existing broadband delivery.

about a week ago
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Facebook Cleans Up News Feed By Reducing Click-Bait Headlines

swb Re:Facebook just changed the game (61 comments)

Cut the spam in your newsfeed with this one simple trick! Facebook hates this!

about a week ago

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